HOLY LAND: October 17, 2003


Feast day at Wadi Fara

On the afternoon of Friday, 27 September/10 October, Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain came to the Skete of St. Chariton in Wadi Fara, where vigil was scheduled for 5 pm for the feast day of the monastery. Vestments were brought from the Ascension Convent at the Mount of Olives. The nuns from that convent made a gift to the brethren of the Skete of a set of green vestments for analogia for the occasion. Archbishop Mark served alone. The service was read and sung by the brethren of the skete, along with Monk Philaret of the Munich Monastery of St. Job of Pochaev, who was there temorarily in order to experience monasticism in the wilderness. After polyeleos and the reading of the Gospel, Archbishop Mark donned rassas upon two laborers, giving them belts, skufias and prayer beads. The new novices, Brothers Alexander and Sergius, had worked for a long time at the Skete of St. Chariton. Upon the arrival of Archbishop Mark, one of them, having determined that there was no bread for the litia, baked loaves from the dough remaining from bread prepared for the monks and pilgrims earlier in the day. Hegumen Andronik arrived with two nuns from the Mt. of Olives by the middle of the canon, bringing prosphoras for the liturgy the following day.

After vigil, the brethren offered a lenten repast to their guests, and Fr. Andronik took confessions. He could not stay overnight, for he needed to serve liturgy at the Mt. of Olives the next day.

The following morning, Saturday, 11 October, midnight office began at 6 am, during which Archbishop Mark read the proskomedia. During the reading of the hours, nuns from both Jerusalem convents arrived along with several pilgrims. At the end of liturgy, Hegumen Andronik came with two other nuns from the Mt. of Olives. Archbishop Mark performed a service of supplication to St. Chariton at his tomb together with Fr. Andronik, after which everyone was invited by the brethren for a trapeza luncheon. Several nuns from Jerusalem helped with the trapeza, so all were able to sit down at the table without delay. Naturally, the new novices worked in great earnestness, having prepared food the previous day for 150 people. There were fewer people present at the trapeza (about 50), but after lunch another 50 people arrived from Tel Aviv, who later went to Gethsemane for vigil.

After the end of trapeza, the eldest of the Fara brethren, Monk Onufrii, described to Archbishop Mark the work needed before the arrival of the winter rains to strengthen the walls and buildings. Vladyka asked him to provide a budget for the disbursement of funds. Later, Fr. Onufrii showed Vladyka a large parcel of land with olive trees above the Skete, which belong to them, the walls of which need to be bolstered for safety.


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